Wednesday / May 29

Walking the Talk: T Minus One Week

School Voice Chronicles


Dr. Michael (Mickey) Corso’s transition from the frying pan (Quaglia Institute) to the fire (high school teacher) was the inspiration for this blog series, Walking the Talk: The School Voice Chronicles. This is not at all surprising, as Mickey has been my inspiration for years. As my colleague and friend for over 15 years, Mickey has consistently challenged my thinking and trusted and supported me like family. He has made me not only a better educator, but a better person. 

Mickey’s transition back to the classroom got me thinking… it would be great to capture his reflections on his experiences as an educator returning to the classroom after 15 years of inspiring other teachers to rethink their classrooms. Mickey will offer a unique perspective, bringing his expertise as a leader in innovative thinking to life—firsthand—in his own classroom. He will be sharing his experiences “from the inside.”

I am beyond confident that Mickey will continue to make an amazing difference in the lives of EVERY student and teacher he collaborates with. I cannot wait to see how his journey unfolds! (I am not a betting person, but I’d put money down that he will be staying true to fostering the voices of all stakeholders in school!)

Good luck, my brother, and continue to inspire!


For the past 15 years I have been the Chief Academic Officer for the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations. It has been an incredible privilege to have worked with and for one of the most amazing educators in the world—Dr. Russell Quaglia. I am grateful for Russ’s kind words above; it is fitting that we are co-authoring this first blog as we have co-authored so many articles and books before. Not only is Student Voice: The Instrument of Change (Corwin 2014) a best-seller, but Student Voice has virtually exploded as a must-do if a school is serious about improvement, reform, or transformation. Having spent the past year co-authoring the forthcoming Aspire High: Imagining Tomorrow’s School Today (Corwin 2017), we humbly hope it, too, will have a major impact on the field.

Together with an equally awesome team of field people, researchers, and staff, we can say with confidence we believe we have had a significant and irrevocable influence on education in this country and beyond. There is not a serious conversation about education that can be had any more without reference to Student Voice. There are books and blogs and websites and twitter hashtags and several full on organizations other than QISA all devoted to Student Voice. Student Voice is even an inevitable part of the new ESSA law. We think it is fair to say Student Voice has arrived.

Russ’s passion and work has been and continues to be an inspiration in the effort to give students a seat at the table where meaningful decisions are made. I will forever be grateful to have been a part of this effort and his ongoing life work. Though there is more to do in all areas Quaglia—Student Voice, Teacher Voice, Principal Voice, Parent Voice, and everyone’s Aspirations—I feel my contribution to the mission has come to fruition. While I have more energy and ideas to give and will stay connected to the Quaglia Institute as a special consultant and board member, I have decided to spend the last chapter of my career in a particular school doing what I love best—learning alongside high school students.

I am in the unique role of being, for the second time, a first year teacher, but this time, with three decades of experience. Best of all I am in the enviable (?!) position of learning whether I can practice what I have been preaching! When Russ suggested the idea for this blog, I jumped at the chance. I am looking forward to sharing with you what it is like to go from knowing (15 years of research into Student Voice and Aspirations) to doing (classrooms full of 25+ students). From ideas (I have seen so many best practices) to implementation (everyday). From theory (I have talked the talk) to practice (walking the walk).

Having flown to dozens of schools and entered hundreds of classrooms, I spent last week driving to just one school—where I will be a department chair—and organizing just one classroom—the one I will share with my four classes of students. Last week for the first time in a long time I attended a faculty orientation at which I was not the keynote speaker. I participated in professional development and was not among those providing a workshop. I did not get to leave when the administration turned to handing out schedules, class rosters, and the binder full of policy-rich, procedure-laden practicalities. I finally had to sit through a discussion about cell phone policy. This week I will greet my students for the first time. And, although my friends say I am crazy, I am looking forward to all of it!

Stay tuned to see if the enthusiastic tone stays.

Written by

Michael J. Corso, Ph.D., former high school teacher turned adjunct professor of education and administrator, has been the Chief Academic Officer for the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA) for 15 years. In that role he provided professional development and training in Aspirations and Student Voice theories and frameworks to thousands of educators and students in hundreds of schools. Out of those experiences he co-authored numerous books and articles on the subject of School Voice, including Student Voice: The Instrument of Change (Corwin 2014) and Aspire High: Imagining Tomorrow’s School Today (Corwin 2016). While he is still connected to QISA as a special consultant, he has decided to return full-time to the high school classroom. While many in education move from practice to theory or policy, Mickey has chosen to move from consulting back to the classroom. This blog is a weekly window into his journey of trying to practice himself what he has preached to others for over two decades as a researcher and PD provider.

Latest comments

  • Proud of this step and excited to watch the journey unfold. Best.

  • Mickey, I am so pleased that you are going to share this particular chapter with us all. What a brave, yes, but wonderfully inspired step to take. To return, as you say, to a place as first year teacher for the second time. The impact you had in our school (Bader Primary School, UK) still resonates with all staff. You may well have led the session but you were very much one of us; staff and, for a period of time, students and parents, too. Have an amazing time. I am sure that the students you teach, along with your new colleagues, will benefit greatly from the knowledge, expertise and experience you have gathered during your time with Russ and the Quaglia team. I look forward to reading this blog and following your progress.

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